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VA Updates: Veteran Benefits – A Couple of Ways to Help Other Veterans

Since my book about Veterans Benefits – Veterans Benefits for You – came out in July I have been interviewed on radio, television, podcasts, and different forms of social media. I have also discussed benefits with company Veteran affinity groups and answered their questions. In these more than two dozen sessions, one common theme has emerged. Veterans are asking how they can help other Veterans. That is, what benefits or programs are there for a buddy facing difficulties that can help him/her change directions?  Two benefits that I point out address are Financial Wellness and Veteran Homeless.  Let me explain.

The First Way to Help Another Veterans: Financial Wellness

Because of the monthly fees, many Veterans do not use the banking system. They are referred to as unbanked Veterans.  Instead, these unbanked Veterans use prepaid debit cards. This is risky and expensive. Risky because of identity theft or loss of the card. Expensive because sizeable fees are paid on these transactions, resulting in less money available for living expenses. 

To get Veterans banked, well-known banks and credit unions partnered with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in 2019 to start the Veterans Benefits Banking Program (VBBP). Through this program, a Veteran can get a no-cost checking account at any of these federally insured institutions for their banking  Each provides a high level of customer service and protection from fraud. Since its inception, more than a quarter million Veterans have gotten banked through the program.

In addition to banking services, VBBP also provides Veterans with free and personalized financial counseling from professionals with The Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education or The National Foundation for Credit Counseling. Any Veteran and their family can get a free counseling session in one of two areas:

Credit Counseling:

  • Your main goal is to get out of debt;
  • You are trying to avoid foreclosure or eviction;
  • You want to qualify for a first-time home purchase.

Financial Counseling:

  • You want to gain information and guidance specific to your unique experience and needs;
  • You want to create a budget, spending plan, or savings plan;
  • You are facing a lifecycle transition, such as education, a new job, or retirement.

Share this information with your battle buddy who is challenged financially. These programs can improve their financial health.

The Second Way to Help Another Veterans: Veteran Homelessness

Many are aware of this tragic problem. Few recall the exact numbers, but it seems almost everyone has seen a person at stop light with a sign identifying them as a homeless Veteran. What can you do?

The positive news is that the VA has programs and resources to support homeless Veterans.  One of the most effective programs is Support Services for Veterans Families (SSVF). Through grants to local nonprofits, support is provided in the form of housing, food, and other assistance. A real challenge is to connect Veterans to these resources.


If you see someone who could be a homeless Veteran, call VA’s National Homeless Hotline at 877-424-3838. Provide a location and they will attempt to locate the person, determine their Veteran status, and what help is appropriate. This is one way we can all help connect homeless Veterans to the available resources.

It’s important to remember that these programs can also help prevent homeless. If you have a battle buddy who is on the cusp of homeless, they should also contact the VA. Early warning signs include eviction notices, couch surfing with friends, and indications they may be sleeping in their car. You can call the hotline on their behalf.

One final point. When dealing with both of these situations – financial struggles or possible homelessness – Veterans may withdraw and self-isolate. They are embarrassed and often don’t share what is going on with their friends or family. Many will later note, “I had no idea.” This is yet another reason for buddy checks, especially with those you haven’t been in contact with in a while.

About the Author Paul R. Lawrence

Paul R. Lawrence, Ph.D., served as Under Secretary of Benefits at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs from May 2018 to January 2021. He is the author of “Veterans Benefits for You: Get what You Deserve,” available from Amazon.

Read About Other VA Updates

If you enjoyed learning about a couple of ways to help another veterans”, we invite you to read the stories of VA Updates on our blog. In addition to our profiles of celebrities who served, we share military book reviews, veterans’ service reflections, famous military units and more on the TogetherWeServed.com blog. If you are a veteran, find your military buddies, view historic boot camp photos, build a printable military service plaque, and more on TogetherWeServed.com today.


Tags: Financial Wellness, military book reviews, Paul R. Lawrence, Support Services for Veterans Families (SSVF), The Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education or The National Foundation for Credit Counseling, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, VA’s National Homeless Hotline, Veteran Homeless, Veterans Benefits Banking Program (VBBP)


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